West & Central Africa

Churches suffering increased attacks in DR Congo

Attacks on Catholic parishes and schools have been launched only three days after pamphlets were distributed in Kinshasa, the Democratic Republic of Congo’s capital, calling for the destruction of Christian property.

Father Jean Marie Mutombo pastor of St Mary of Lukalaba, located some 50km from Mbuji Mayi, in Kasaï-Oriental said that his church was attacked on Wednesday morning. “Inconsiderate men broke down the door of the church, entered the church, desecrated the altar, took away all the linens for the altar, all the liturgical books and all that was laid out for the morning mass,” he said.

“They broke the window of the sacristy, they took the statue of the Virgin Mary – it was new as we had just received it from French benefactors – liturgical objects, especially chalices,” he added.

“We are disappointed and discouraged about the work we are doing here. We are doing everything we can to alleviate the misery of our people. But it is deplorable that people rail against the actions of the Church,” he said.

Other attempts to attack at Saint Robert Kansele and Saint Albert the Great of Mbuji-Mayi, were prevented when police intervened. However in the town of Lubumbashi in Haut-Katanga, the parish priest of Saint Kizito, the Church and school were attacked.  According to the priest, who spoke anonymously, the attackers took away several sewing machines and a large sum of money from the school, although he did not disclose how much. The attackers then attempted to set fire to the door of the church with petrol cans, but security forces interrupted the invasion.

The provincial police commissioner of Haut-Katanga condemned the attacks. Four people, who are yet to be named, have been arrested and prosecuted.

Christians form the majority of the population in the Democratic Republic of Congo where an estimated 63 million people out of a population of 81.7 million are Christians.